Tourism is a mass industry constantly being shaped by economic, social, and political fabrics. Popular destinations change, economies experience booms and recessions, and legal situations are subject to modifications. Most influential to the tourism industry, though, are social conditions - destinations considered “popular” at the time, pictures consumers view on social media platforms, and which type of vacation can make the tourist appear most cultured or up-to-date with the latest trends. Most recently, there has been a surge in the popularity of ecotourism, or “tourism selling an encounter with a ‘natural’ landscape. Tourists are more interested in vacationing in remote areas amongst rainforests than they are in international cities. The reason for ecotourism’s sudden popularity is twofold: people want to participate in the same popular, interesting activities as their friends, and stressful work environments give more reason to seek relaxing trips abroad. However, there still remains a large population of tourists interested in all-inclusive relaxation vacations. They are pampered into believing that developing countries simply consist of white sand beaches and beachfront restaurants. Though ecotourism has received a surge in popularity, especially in North Bengal, large corporations are still threatening the future of sustainable tourism.
North Bengal’s ecotourism has impressively respected the environment and the surrounding community. North Bengali ecotourism is especially popular due to its national park system, which is complemented by “rolling hills, beautiful oak, pine and fir trees, and flowers.” Kunjnagar Ecotourism Park is precisely such a park. Its wildlife sanctuary, ethnic cottages, and observation tower are perfect for tourists interested in ecotourism activity. Thanks to tourists’ visits to Kunjnagar, workers’ income generated from ecotourism has increased significantly. During the period 2002-03, their income was approximately $16,920, and during the period 2007-08, it reached $21,720. It is estimated that in many developing countries, 65 to 70 percent of locals’ income comes from nearby tourism, so every gesture made towards a community’s financial security is especially important. Because visiting such beautiful and natural parks such as Kunjnagar is an indicator of ones personal beliefs to preserve nature and be well-informed of the destructive practices of mass resorts, guests receive a sense of personal fulfillment. As they relay stories of gratification and relaxation to their friends, an increasing number of people choose to participate in ecotourism. Though ecotourism is culturally and environmentally respectful, a traditionally large group of people remains interested in vacationing at resorts, notorious for their depletion of natural resources and neglect of the local community.
Large resorts and vacation home developments go against practically everything ecolodges believe in. They take up an extreme amount of space - both literally and figuratively. Near Kunjnagar, about 10 acres of forest lands have been wiped out for the construction of resorts and other infrastructural facilities since 2000. Resorts producing a significant amount of souvenirs are depleting even more natural resources, as they consume a great deal of wood and timber in the process. That said, resorts are bad representations of environmental preservation and of maintaining respect for the community. Especially when most guests are upper-middle class white adults or families, the difference in treatment of guests and staff becomes black and white.
Ecotourism, and tourism in general, can resemble practices of colonialism that additionally reflect on the class from which most ecotourists originate. Most are white, upper-middle class adults looking to explore a “new, interesting destination.” In doing so, though, a hierarchy is formed which resembles social dynamics that existed during colonial periods. Locals, usually financially unstable non-white people, work for guests, who are wealthy enough to afford an international resort vacation. As one tourist describes: “‘The time is gone when a few men and women armed with modern weapons, religion, and courage could subjugate an entire people and their lands, but some of the explorer’s conquests live on in the mountaineer.’” So as wealthy people walk amongst hidden territory on their bird-watching tours, locals hold positions that chain them to the subservient nature of perpetual colonialism.
Ecotourism will forever be difficult terrain to cross. It is complicated by the colonial and environmental implications it holds, creating a power division and emphasizing the coloniality of power. North Bengal, unlike other countries, has amassed a conglomerate of ecoparks that pledge to sustain and remain loyal to the local environment. Its one competitor, though will always be the most destructive force nature fights against: resorts. For some reason, tourists remain attracted to vacations that disrespect local environments and communities, instead prioritizing their personal satisfaction. Ecotourism is a growing industry, but will always face difficulty with wealthy corporations seeking to maximize their presence.
 Fletcher, Robert. Romancing the Wild: Cultural Dimensions of Ecotourism. (United States of America: Duke University Press, 2014), 3.
 Karmakar, Madhusudan. “Ecotourism and its Impact on the Regional Economy - a Study of North Bengal (India),” Tourismos: An International Multidisciplinary Journal of Tourism (2011): 257, accessed April 23, 2016.
 Karmakar, 265.
 Fletcher, Robert. Romancing the Wild: Cultural Dimensions of Ecotourism, 30.
 Fletcher, Robert. Romancing the Wild: Cultural Dimensions of Ecotourism, 31.